Recent Dorkiness

A Funnybook Far, Far Away…

Taking another little side-trip from the Dork Awards to discuss another comic that everybody’s talking about…

Star Wars 1, by Jason Aaron and John Cassaday

Star Wars 1 Cassaday Cover

I wasn’t sure I was going to give this book a try. The last time I really enjoyed a Star Wars comic, I was maybe in middle school. I think Archie Goodwin and Al Williamson were doing the book then. Which says less about my taste at that age, and more about how lucky I was to have such a great creative team on a comic I probably would have enjoyed in the hands of any halfway competent writer and artist. But they left, my tastes changed, and I mostly stopped reading Star Wars comics.

I mean, last year’s The Star Wars intrigued me, but that was mainly because I was curious about what George Lucas’ original script looked like. Once I got the feel of the thing, I saw that the execution was leaving something to be desired and my interest waned pretty fast. And I liked the idea of Brian Wood’s Star Wars comic, set (like this one) between the first and second movies, but I’m hit and miss enough with Wood that I just decided to give it a miss.

This one, though… It’s got one hell of a creative team behind it. Probably the best since Goodwin and Williamson, in fact. I seldom go too far wrong with a Jason Aaron comic, and I’ve picked up books I otherwise despised (I’m looking at YOU, Joss Whedon X-Men!) just to gaze at John Cassaday’s pretty pretty pictures. So I figured… What the hell? It could only suck so bad, right?

Whatever you say, Mr. Solo.

Whatever you say, Mr. Solo.

But, hey! For once, those weren’t famous last words. This book actually didn’t suck. It was a pretty decent little Star Wars story, full of action and humor and so many of the things so many Star Wars comics get so very wrong. The cast is charming, for instance. They bicker. The relationships feel right. The situations have that sort of “caper” feel to them, where well-laid plans go horribly awry, and Our Heroes have to improvise their way out. It’s fun.

But it’s not great. I didn’t find it particularly exciting, for one thing, and that’s important for this kind of pulpy sci-fi nonsense. Also, it seemed to me that Aaron and Cassaday were working a little too hard to work in familiar Star Wars stuff. I love that they took four whole pages to give us the classic Star Wars opening…

Star Wars 1 Intro

This…

Star Wars 1 Logo

…is…

Star Wars 1 Scroll

…EPIC!

…and I even kind of like that the disguises they use in the opening match the outfits Jabba the Hutt’s guards wore in Return of the Jedi:

Star Wars 1 Jabba Guards

They’re posing as emissaries of Jabba, after all, so that makes sense. But the little details kind of piled on after that, and by the time we got to a room full of Imperial Walkers, I was starting to feel like the comic was continually poking me, and going, “Hey remember this thing? And this other thing? And what about this?! I KNOW you remember THIS!” And that got on my nerves.

I also wasn’t sure about the effectiveness of space kung fu on dudes wearing full body armor.

Hi-Keeba!

Hi-Keeba!

Then there’s this thing about how often the Millennium Falcon is mistaken for garbage, which (if I can nit-pick for a moment) is a reference to something from The Empire Strikes Back, and thus happened well after the events of this story. Sorry to be the stereotypical fanboy there…

(Worst. Reference. Ever.)

(Worst. Reference. Ever.)

…but if you’re going to trade on that much specific shit from the movies, you better get it right.

Not that this ruins the comic or anything. There’s some great cocky hare-brained Han Solo scheming, an opportunity for hilarity with C-3PO, a chance for Princess Leia to get in on the ass-kickery, a pretty bad-ass Chewbacca moment…

Star Wars 1 Chewbacca

…and there’s this dude named Luke Skywalker in it, too. He’s got a laser sword and talks to people who aren’t there. He’s kind of a big deal, I guess.

I’m also pleased that I can already see Aaron delving into how things went from the status quo at the end of Star Wars to the situations and relationships we see at the beginning of Empire. That includes the Han/Leia romance, the change in the Rebels’ fortunes, and exactly how it is that Darth Vader finds out it was Luke who destroyed the Death Star.

(And, holy crap, I hope we see the ramifications of THAT little discovery….)

“Uhm, boss...? You said my son was dead, you prune-faced bastard!”

“You said my son was dead, you prune-faced bastard!”

So, yeah. It didn’t suck. But was it five whole dollars’ worth of Not-Suck? Hmm. I’m gonna have to think on that a bit. The highway robbery of that cover price IS ameliorated a bit by the fact that this first issue gave us 33 pages of story. Granted, four of those pages were given over to the classic movie opening, with an additional page devoted to movie-style end credits. But I’m okay with that. It sets the proper tone, and (as I think I’ve said before) graphic design is content. Or, at least it is when it’s done this well.

If future issues are shorter and cheaper, and if the creative team gets over its “HERE IS THIS THING YOU REMEMBER” fetish, it might be worth the money. Or it might be something I read digitally. A year or two from now. When the price drops.

Or maybe if we get more of THIS guy…

Star Wars 1 Jaxxon Cover

Only time will tell.

Grade: B

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About Mark Brett (431 Articles)
Shaved Yeti. Alien. Writer of stuff. Read my fiction at http://reportsfromthefieldblog.wordpress.com/. Read my thoughts on comic books and other dork culture ephemera at https://dorkforty.wordpress.com/.

2 Comments on A Funnybook Far, Far Away…

  1. I decided not to pick this up. It just feels like a major case of “here we go again.” Between the original Marvel comic books from the late 1970s, the newspaper strips by Russ Manning and Archie Goodwin & Al Williamson, the various novels written over the past few decades, and a number of different series published by Dark Horse over a two decade span (most recently the ongoing written by Brian Wood) it feels like the adventures of the main characters during the three year period between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back have been mined for all they’re worth. What is left to be said?

    Yeah, yeah, I know all of those old comic and novels and newspaper strips are probably now considered non-canonical by Disney. But, really, I don’t think we need yet another version of “Darth Vader discovers the Death Star was destroyed by Luke Skywalker” and “Han Solo runs into a bounty hunter at Ord Mantell” and “the Rebel Alliance is driven from Yavin 4 to Hoth.”

    There is the five dollar price tag, which is just too much. And there’s also trhe fact that John Cassaday is a really slow artist. Unless he was given a really long lead time to start working on Star Wars, either their are going to be delays in this series or a new artist before long.

    Maybe I am being too cynical. Maybe Jason Aaron will find new things to say about and do with these characters. If so, I can always buy the inevitable trade paperback.

    Like

  2. Nah, I don’t think you’re being too cynical. Aaron’s going to have fun with this thing, I think, but that’s about all I expect. If I’d read any of that Star Wars stuff between middle school and now (or if Splinter of the Mind’s Eye hadn’t long faded from memory), I’d probably feel much the same way.

    Like

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